Coronavirus: Delivery riders in Singapore taking precautions, but worry about earnings

Food delivery rider Clare Tan has been working on an almost daily basis since last September but her daily routine has changed significantly in recent weeks.

The Deliveroo rider, who works for about three hours a day, now sanitises her hands and mobile phone regularly and cycles around with a surgical mask on.

Ms Tan, 34, also delivers more orders without seeing the customers, as more people embrace the idea of contactless delivery as a precaution against Covid-19.

"More people are putting in specific requests to leave the food outside the house," she said. "If there are no detailed requests, I will usually put the bag on the floor or nearby, inform the customer and leave after they open the door."

Interactions with friends and colleagues while on the job are also reduced to a brief wave.

"I still wave to friends, colleagues or people I recognise but, of course, we can't really chit-chat when we are 2m apart with masks on. It's too much effort."

Despite the changes, most delivery riders like Ms Tan have settled into a new normal and adapted to precautions to better protect themselves and their families.

But some, such as GrabFood rider Fabian Teo, have gone a step further.

Mr Teo, who lives with his grandmother, has cut down on deliveries since last month and stopped work for about two weeks this month.

"My grandma is 80 years old. It's not worth it to put her at risk," he said. "I am burning through my savings, but completing deliveries is not the priority for me right now."


He has been tapping the grants given by the Government.

Mr Teo returned to do deliveries on Friday evening, but only for a three-hour period, after hearing that Grab was making contactless delivery a default option for customers.

He is taking additional precautions, such as avoiding crowds and sanitising his hands before he enters his house.

Mr Teo and several other riders said the main issue arising from the pandemic was not the safety measures but a drop in earnings.

They said there is an oversupply of riders as many more people have joined the industry recently. The waiting time to collect orders has also gone up, with the surge in delivery requests.

Some said their earnings have dipped by 20 per cent, while Mr Teo said he and his friends are earning around 60 per cent less as they are receiving fewer orders.

"Many people are joining the delivery business now, even friends whom I didn't expect to do so, like musicians. It's understandable and I am not blaming anybody but the virus," he said.

"But we are not profiting from Covid-19, we are being hit hard."

Toh Ting Wei